We asked Shani Peters, LP alumni and 2015 SOAPBOX Honoree, a few questions to find out more about her connection to The LP, what inspires her creative practice, and more. Read on to find out what she had to say. (Photo by Sonia Louise Davis)
Tell us your bio in six words or less.
Lover of laughter, justice, and beauty.
How did you first connect with The LP?
Via a blind studio visit with Petrushka “2 Brainz” Bazin Larsen.
What motivates or inspires your creative practice?
Taking my own ideas serious enough to cultivate them. Also music, new experiences, and a love of people—particularly those who fall into various underdog categories.
You’ve worked with The LP in many capacities: as a teaching artist, artist-in-residence, and Artist & Community Council member. Can you share an experience working with The LP that was particularly inspirational?
The first capacity I worked in with LP was as a teaching artist leading workshops on the sidewalk outside the Laundry Room, three blocks from my apartment. That experience taught me that making space for people to sit down on the premise of just one hands-on, imaginative thing can get them to open up to a conversation about anything. That lesson inspired my LP residency work, my teaching practice everywhere, and influences the way I imagine executing and sharing my own ideas and work.
In 2013, you brought an independent film festival to a local Harlem laundromat, showcasing work by 32 artists and filmmakers. How did community members respond to your residency project?
This question makes me smile. Let’s see… they responded with questions, confusion, a fair share of quintessential NYC indifference, AND with laughter, smiles, more questions, bobbing heads, black power fists, hugs, and VOTES!
You grew up in Michigan, but have since made Harlem home. What do you love most about Harlem?
Harlem is the place in this country, more widely recognized than any other, where black people have formed together like Voltron and radiated ridiculous levels of brilliance across discipline. The people here carry this legacy in their DNA and walk in that shine whether they are up or down, in or out. There is a shared knowing here, I love walking with it.
What is your favorite book, film, and / or album about NYC?
Do the Right Thing.
Short answers (please tell us the first word that comes to mind!):
Anything else you want to tell us?
So, I just heard this the other day and it’s been blowing my mind like I was 6 years old ever since… “If you always do what you’ve always done you’ll always get what you always had. If you want something new you’ve got to do what you’ve never done.”
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Shani Peters is a multi-disciplinary, Harlem-based artist whose work explores community building, activism histories, and reinterpreted notions of media. She is currently enjoying a one-person show at the University of Michigan. Shani was a 2013 artist-in-residence in Harlem and has been a teaching artist with The LP since 2010.